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Along Party Lines

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Along Party Lines

08:39:33:26 Pan women working at desks, secretary or clerical workers, in two rows of three. CU to boss, man in back corner desk in 1940s or 1950s style suit.

08:40:14:11 VS suburban homes.

08:40:36:12 Woman dialing rotary phone. Prominent flowery wall paper in background. CU woman’s hand dialing on rotary dial.

08:40:47:17 Older woman answering telephone.

08:40:55:27 Great animated illustration. Two then four phones. Lightening bolts. Illustrating network using party line service.

08:41:36:21 Woman in bathrobe throws enters bathroom and shuts door on man in bathrobe, towel on shoulder, tries to enter; man shrugs and turns around.

08:41:45:15 Old woman reading on chair across from teenage girl lying across chair on telephone with papers on lap and pencil in hand. Old woman looks up from magazine and removes glasses “Hadn’t you better hang up Peggy someone may want to use the line.”
Peggy into the phone “Oh Mom says I’ve gotta hang up now. Bye Sussy.”

08:42:09:08 Old woman in dress on telephone beside fireplace. Woman says into phone “Oh well with the prices the way they are now adays I just don’t know” interrupted by voice on other end of line “Can I have the line please, I’ve got to call a doctor, my baby’s just fallen [last word unclear]”. Old woman “Alright Jane I’ll call ya’ later.”

08:42:33:08 MS young woman in dark jacket and pearl necklace lifts phone, listens to make sure line is open, then dials on rotary dial of phone.

08:42:43:22 LS young woman in summer dress sitting on couch answers phone by window then hangs up the phone.

08:42:49:19 Young man in twenties or thirties in white shirt, tie and sweater vest working while on phone at desk; hangs up phone; picks it back up, hesitates, then replaces the receiver again, pauses, then leans back in his chair to light up a cigarette.

08:43:03:01 Woman seated in chair picks up phone and dials on rotary dial.

08:43:11:08 Family at dinner table and teenage girl in background on phone; father in frustrated, turns and signals to her daughter to join them at table; CU angry daughter annoyed turns back to father.

08:43:18:24 Housewife wearing apron standing in kitchen on phone.

08:43:23:15 Young housewife wearing apron vacuuming, stops to answer the phone.

08:43:33:20 Cute little girl with two little bows in her hair sitting in big chair on telephone half the size of her body. Mother enters frame and takes phone away from child and hangs it up.

08:43:45:12 Split frame old woman on left and man wearing smoking jacket reading simultaneously answer phone.

08:43:53:20 Man about forty years of age in suit and tie seated at desk calmly speaking to camera.

08:44:18:28 VS array of party line advertisements, bill inserts and letters: “Why 3 out of 4 telephones are on party lines”; drawing of four men singing “Party line harmony is might important these days.”

08:44:37:25 Bald radio announcer in studio broadcasting into microphone party line commercial: “You and the other fellow on your line can help each other to better telephone service by simply being good party line neighbors.”

08:44:47:03 Party line ad in window with four angels on telephones. Text reads “Party line users don’t have to be angels…but consideration and friendliness will make for good service all around.”

08:44:52:12 Party-line ad in window of office. Women working at desks in background. Ad shows suburban neighborhood reads “Party-line: Courtesy is Catching.”

08:44:59:19 Great shot of people in movie theatre watching film on Party lines. Dancing rotary phone projected on screen; little model suburbia.

08:45:20:27 Man with slicked hair at desk in suit and tie open pamphlet; CU inside pamphlet bar graph titled “Service Good or Excellent.”

08:46:18:05 Split screen with stern looking business man seated on left reading paper answering phone alongside older woman in maids uniform on right.

08:46:47:16 Adorable little girl wide-eyed with bows in her hair answers telephone larger than her head while seated in chair.

08:46:40:16 Two pretty young women in matching clothes seated on couch listening in on a single telephone receiver.

08:46:45:28 Woman in profile seated at desk on telephone. Voice on other end of line “I can hear the other party picking up the telephone and listening.” Another woman at desk on phone writing note while listening to voice on other end of line “My husband can never get me when he’s delayed at the office.” Third woman at desk on phone writing note from voice; MS woman on other end of line speaking into phone.

08:47:12:16 Engineer on telephone pole fixing line. CU man cutting and re-routing telephone line. Long rows of hundreds of wires. Female operators with headphones on working in cubicles.

08:47:33:07 Split screen two pretty teenage girls lying on couch sharing phone receiver tapping hand and legs to music; boy on other end of line holding phone up to record player.

08:48:07:19 Woman at desk taking notes listening to woman seated across from her voicing complaints: “Our line is always busy, every time we want to use the phone someone else is on the line.”
“I am very sorry to hear that.”
“And our friends our always telling us they can never reach us by phone even though we are at home. And many of our calls are important.”
“Well misses Albright…”
“We simply got to have a private line.”
CU “We would be glad to do that if we could. But right now we haven’t enough facilities for people who want service. And giving one person a line by himself would be depriving others of service.”

08:48:38:04 Row of rotary phones moving on assembly line in factory. CU of machines in telephone factory.

08:49:47:02 LS five women and one man seated around table with phones; blackboard in background. Woman (group leader) at head of table “how can we be helpful?”
MS one woman “My own experience is that the most important thing is to be a good listener.”
LS group leader stands up to write on large paper notepad. Writes in cursive on notepad “Be a good listener.”
Group Leader “What do you mean by that Sue?”

08:50:29:19 CU Young woman “I know that whenever I tell my troubles to anyone I feel better, my troubles look a lot smaller.”

08:50:54:02 Grumpy old man, curmudgeon, yelling into phone angrily.

08:51:14:10 Woman in suit write in cursive on large white notepad “Get the facts.”

08:51:27:20 MS two women in frame behind table speaking to group leader.
“All this listening sounds nice but how about the customers who just keep on telling you the same thing over and over again. We just haven’t got the time for that.”
Other woman reacts “Yes but you’ve got to give the customer time to get the whole thing off his chest. That’s the help he needs most, to get calmed down to look at his difficulties in a reasonable way.”

08:52:12:14 Woman writes in cursive on large white notepad “Kind of difficulty.”

08:52:28:19 Woman writes in cursive on notepad “How often”

08:52:39:13 Woman writes in cursive on notepad “How long”

08:52:50:29 Woman writes on notepad “Time of day”

08:53:51:04 Woman writes on notepad at top of page “Do something about it”

08:54:41:24 Woman writes on large notepad “Help the customer help himself”

08:57:48:21 Woman writes on blackboard 77% in front of group at meeting.

08:59:43:12 Woman write on large notepad “Show your sympathetic interest.”

Producer Bell System
Sponsor Bell System
Audio/Visual sound, color


Produced in cooperation with The Bell Telephone Company of Pennsylvania and the New York Telephone Company.


Reviewer: Spuzz - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - May 31, 2014
Subject: get off the phone
Very entertaining film made for phone operators about the many problems you may encounter from customers about party lines. Now me, not knowing anything, thought this was like 3-way calling. But NO. This was a line that 2 or more households shared during the olden days of telephone wiring (I think) and many people had to share the line, and wait their turn. Very interesting. Anyways, there were many problems (as outlined in this film!) and it's quite the trip. The second half, with the meeting of "women" and resolutions to these problems is far less interesting.. Too much writing! but still worth the watch. Highly reccomended!
Reviewer: Refined Taste - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - March 29, 2013
Subject: Pardon the positive comment, but
This film has quite a collection of very attractive women. It's worth watching for the trip into the past, the time of manners and grace, but it's worth watching even more for the pulchritude.
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